Cisco Evaluates Linksys Brand, SMB Strategy
Don't misunderstand The VAR Guy: The Linksys product brand remains alive and well, and Cisco remains committed to the Linksys product line. However, Cisco CEO John Chambers suggested that the Linksys brand "will become a Cisco brand over time" during a question-and-answer session on July 24. Plus, there's talk of TelePresence gradually moving into the SMB market. Here's the scoop.
Frankly, the "Cisco vs. Linksys" branding debate is overblown by some members of the press. Much like the "Windows 95 vs. Windows NT Workstation" debate a decade ago, most vendors would kill for a win-win scenario involving two product lines within one company.
Indeed, commercial sales to small and midsize accounts have been Cisco's fastest-growing business for the past three years, according to Peter Alexander, VP of marketing for commercial solutions at Cisco. "If your business isn't IT centric, you're building your first network and you just need connectivity, that's a Linksys opportunity," says Alexander. For those who need to make the leap from entry-level Linksys networks, Cisco now offers a trade-up program that allows customers to apply the full value of their Linksys gear to Cisco-branded product purchases.
Separately, Alexander foresees a day when high-end enterprise solutions — including TelePresence — find their way into small and midsize businesses. Thanks to Moore's law (where processing power doubles every 18 months), Chambers expects TelePresence systems to reach consumer homes within five to seven years (see item 6 on this list of observations from Chambers).
In the meantime, Alexander expects solutions providers to deploy TelePresence systems in creative ways for small businesses. One prime example: Some VARs are putting TelePresence into shared office space. In that scenario, multiple SMBs share the TelePresence system, paying only for the amount of service they require.
CEO Chambers says TelePresence has the potential to be a grand slam for Cisco. However, Alexander concedes that Cisco has to extend TelePresence to extranets (allowing connections between two or more different businesses). TelePresence is currently limited to connections within one business or organization.